natural hazards

DOE report on U.S. Energy Sector Vulnerabilities to Climate Change and Extreme Weather

The Department of Energy updated a report as part of the Administration’s efforts to support national climate change adaptation planning and to promote energy security. The report examines the impacts of climate change and extreme weather on the U.S. energy sector and identifies activities underway to address these challenges as well as potential opportunities to enhance energy technologies.

Distant Quakes Trigger Tremors at U.S. Waste-Injection Sites

A recent study done by Columbia University and the University of Oklahoma published in the 12 July 2013 issue of Science suggests that large (magnitude 7 or above) earthquakes from all over the globe can trigger smaller quakes at waste fluid injection sites where pressure from the fluids has pushed faults close to failure. At some injection locations, a swarm of remotely triggered earthquakes appears to act as a warning sign that large earthquakes related to human activities may be imminent. Several areas in Oklahoma, Colorado, and Texas showed this correlation.

Restoring US leadership in weather forecasting

On May 23, 2013 the Subcommittee on Energy of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee held a hearing on Restoring U.S. Leadership in Weather Forecasting. With witness testimony from Mr. Barry Myers, Chief Executive Officer of AccuWeather, a private weather forecasting company, and Mr. Jon Kirchner, President of GeoOptics, a private environmental data company, the hearing focused on how to improve budgeting and cooperation between federal weather organizations and the private weather industry.

National flood insurance rates on the rise

National flood insurance rates are set to rise at the end of the month. Beginning October 1, 2013, owners of repetitively flooded homes and the most subsidized policyholders of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) will begin paying 25 percent more each year for flood insurance until their rates accurately reflect the level of risk associated with their properties.  The increases are targeted at 1.1 million policyholders that own homes along hazardous shorelines that are worth less than the claims paid out by the federal government.

Floodplain mapping should include climate variation, group says

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) released a report on August 13 that criticizes the failure of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to take account of climate change in risk assessment. The report is part of a larger effort by UCS to convince the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to account for climate impacts on flooding in its policies. The report comes before the planned initiation of increased premiums for risky buildings, which will be done by the NFIP on October 1.

EIA interactive map showing energy structure potentially impacted by storms

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) has released several interactive maps that combine real-time data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Hurricane Center with maps showing the nation’s energy infrastructure and resources. These maps, released as peak hurricane season approaches, serve to better illustrate the potential impact of a storm for industry, government decisions makers, and the general public. The new maps are available at any time on the EIA’s Energy Disruptions webpage.

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